PUTRAJAYA - Malaysian lawmakers - including those in the opposition - may soon be legally required to declare all their assets, if measures proposed by a Cabinet select committee on anti-corruption are implemented.
According to Malaysian media reports, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Tuesday (May 14) that the committee is proposing extending a requirement the Pakatan Harapan government already imposes on its own lawmakers to all parliamentarians.
The committee also wants to make asset declaration by ministry officials a key performance indicator (KPI) for ministers.
"At least twice a year, ministers must hold a ministerial-level meeting to see how they can effectively boost governance, integrity and anti-corruption in their respective organisations," Tun Dr Mahathir said at a press conference after chairing the meeting of the select committee.
He added that ministers must also sign a pledge and issue directive on gift policy. He said members of his administration are currently barred from accepting gifts worth more than RM500 (S$164).
"Now you cannot accept a lot of gifts; when I was the (fourth) prime minister, I received 26 cars, so I returned them. If you want to see, go to (Galeri Perdana) Langkawi," he said.
On the need for opposition lawmakers to abide by the same rules, Dr Mahathir said this was in exchange for their power to criticise the government.
"They have the power of criticising the government and they have (the) free voice (to put forward) the criticism made by somebody or others."
"We have to go through the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat before this can be initiated," he said referring to the Lower House of Parliament when asked when it can be implemented.
The Prime Minister's remarks came as Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) issued a gag order banning members from discussing a bribery scandal. The son-in-law of PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang had claimed that five party leaders had received "bribes" and other financial benefits, including an Audi vehicle, from former rival Umno in the past.
Since raising the matter last week, Mr Zaharudin Muhammad, 43, has been attacked in hundreds of comments on his Facebook account for embarrassing the party. Some asked him to leave the Islamist party.
Dr Mahathir has repeatedly said that making the country "clean" was a key mission of his administration.